Life Unchained: On a High
Life Unchained: Just Like the Movies

Counting down to the speech

Meanwhile, Vidya Balan and the government are trying to toilet train the nation.

Will Modi speak in Hindi throughout, will he switch to English occasionally to be more inclusive, something he is fond of promising? Will Modi speak in Hindi throughout, will he switch to English occasionally to be more inclusive, something he is fond of promising?

Meanwhile, Vidya Balan and the government are trying to toilet train the nation.

The prime minister’s annual address to the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort is a ritual many people haven’t followed religiously in the last decade (this columnist included). Manmohan Singh has many sterling qualities, but oration is not one of them. However, be assured that tomorrow morning, viewers all over the country will watch PM Narendra Modi when he delivers his first Independence Day speech for, as we discovered during the election campaign, Modi has many talents, and oration is one of them.

If you heard him speak at the BJP national executive meeting over the weekend or in Leh on Tuesday, you will appreciate the difference between the two prime ministers and their public speaking. Modi is in his element whenever he has an audience whereas Singh is ill at ease. In Leh, wearing traditional headgear, Modi spoke with supreme confidence. So expect a rousing speech, a grand performance on Friday. What to look out for? Will he speak in Hindi throughout, will he switch to English occasionally to be more inclusive, something he is fond of promising? Or will there be a simultaneous translation?

Certainly, Doordarshan is pulling out all the stops for the speech. We have been promised a brief profile of the prime minister before his address, and patriotic songs in regional languages. Indeed, DD News is doing all it can to promote the regions. For instance, caught a news bulletin on Sunday afternoon, where the chief minister of Gujarat, Anandiben Patel, was at a Rakhi-tying ceremony and the next news item concerned her announcement of awards for sportspersons from Gujarat if they performed well at international events. Wonder if DD News broadcast other chief ministers receiving Rakhis, or is there something special about Gujarat? Hmmmn, wonder what it could be.

And wonder what the fuss was about Room No 5 that the president of India had to rebuke MPs and we had to watch some of them behave like children being deprived of their favorite toy? Times Now was outraged enough to actually discuss how TMC and TDP MPs wrangled over who would occupy Room No 5 in Parliament House. Hallo? Sure, it made for great television but it was sad news.

India TV gave us some news that made the all-too-loud noise over the NDA government’s choice of Bharat Ratna award-winners sound sillier than the usual discussions do in the evening. Rajat Sharma revealed on Tuesday night that at least two Bharat Ratna medallions are headed for Rashtrapati Bhavan, where they will be on display. Further, he added like a stern school teacher, Bharat Ratna awards are announced on Republic Day, not on Independence Day. Which suggests that there will be no Bharat Ratna awards announced on Friday. Let’s see if he is correct.

Meanwhile, have you noticed Vidya Balan demanding a toilet? Yes, that’s what she wants for the people of India, particularly its women, in a new series of TV commercials launched by the government to toilet-train the nation. Well, if Balan can successfully sell the idea of toilets to Indians, she deserves an Oscar — better still, the Bharat Ratna.

The mobile phone has become a real character in our soap operas. Have you noticed that just when there is a lull in the action, the mobile will shudder into life and introduce a new element in the drama? In Maat (Zindagi), for instance, Aiman picks up her husband Adnan’s mobile when it is ringing and discovers, entirely by accident of course, a series of messages from her sister to her husband. Aha, so sister dear is involved with the errant hubby — now what will happen?

In Rangrasiya (Colors), a camera plays a crucial role in resolving a conflict. Embittered Rudra is perpetually at odds with Myrah (a modern “goddammit”-spewing lookalike of his wife Paro) and accuses her of using his son when in fact she was helping his son earn a little cash to buy a particular gift for his cousin. In anger and frustration, Myrah vents her emotions in front of a camera that finds its way to Rudra. In earlier times, there was divine intervention, now it’s all technological.

shailaja.bajpai@expressindia.com

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